Defiance Campaign 1952
The post-1948 period saw the African National Congress (ANC) abandoning its traditional reliance on tactics of moderation such as petitions and deputations. In December 1949, with the support of the ANC Youth League, a new leadership came to power in the ANC. Walter Sisulu was elected secretary-general and a number of Youth Leaguers were elected to the national executive, including Oliver Tambo , Sisulu's successor. The period 1950 -1952 began with a commitment to militant African nationalism and mass action and to tactics of boycotts, strikes and civil disobedience. The period culminated in the Defiance Campaign, the largest scale non-violent resistance ever seen in ...view middle of the document...
The majority of Black adults and school children boycotted many of the festivities.
On that day mass rallies were held in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Durban, East London and Cape Town as well as some rural areas. Dr. J.S. Moroka was the main speaker at the Johannesburg rally chaired by Dr. Dadoo. In Port Elizabeth Prof. Z.K Matthews spoke about militant African nationalism and self-reliance. He said, "only the African people themselves will ever rid themselves of political subjugation, economic exploitation and social degradation".
June 26 1952: Defiance Campaign launched
After the successes of 6 April the date for the start of the Defiance Campaign was set for 26 June 1952. A "Day of the Volunteers" on Sunday 22 June, preceded the opening of the campaign. Volunteers signed the following pledge:
I, the undersigned, Volunteer of the National Volunteer Corps, do hereby solemnly pledge and bind myself to serve my country and my people in accordance with the directives of the National Volunteer Corps and to participate fully and without reservations to the best of my ability in the Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws. I shall obey the orders of my leader under whom I shall be placed and strictly abide by the rules and regulations of the National Volunteer Corps framed from time to time. It shall be my duty to keep myself physically, mentally and morally fit."
The first group of volunteers including Nelson Mandela, Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Kotane, J.B. Marks, David Bopape and Walter Sisulu defied apartheid laws in Johannesburg and other major city centres. The defiers who began the campaign did so with a sense that history was being made. For the first time Africans and Indians, with a few whites and coloureds were engaging in joint political action under a common leadership. A national action committee, whose key members were Sisulu and Ismail 'Maulvi' Cachalia, and a national volunteer board, with Mandela as the volunteer-in-chief, conducted the campaign.
Groups of volunteers went into action, small in numbers but high in spirits. During the campaign, acts of defiance were accompanied by freedom songs and the thumbs-up sign (introduced by the Cape ANC in 1949 as a sign of unity), cries of "Afrika!" and "Mayibuye!" and cheers from supporting onlookers. 52 Africans and Indians, including Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Ismail Cachalia, marched into Boksburg location near Johannesburg without permits. All were arrested. Mandela and Cachalia were present only as observers since they planned to avoid arrest. However, that evening they were among a group of protestors who were arrested in Johannesburg when they left a hall after curfew. In Port Elizabeth, 30 people entered a railway station through the "Europeans Only" entrance and were arrested. Others were arrested for entering the European sections of the post offices, sitting on benches marked for whites, or...